Sunday, July 29, 2007

Could it be?

Is today really the last day in the Tour de France? Um, I mean, Tour de Fleece? Oui!

As I stand in the alley clutching on to a neighbor's one bar of wireless I feel compelled to postpone the giant post-tour wrap up special. When I get my home modem replaced, I will sit down and do this properly.

Until then, please let me know how you fared. Over 130 people signed up... I want to know what happened! Are you wearing yellow? Did you spin yellow? Did you survive?

Be proud today Tour spinners, you made it! Now it's your turn to brag.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fiber Friday 7/27/07

The Tour de Fleece has been the best thing that's happened to Fiber Friday. I've got a lot of yarns here to share.

First up: Contador. Made in honor of the young cyclist Alberto Contador, this was spun on the day he won his first stage ever in the Tour de France. The colors of his Discovery team (blue, green, black) are here with white for the best young rider jersey he wears and one yellow stripe for the sleeve the Discovery team has in honor of Lance Armstrong. The whole deal is plied with wasabi green crochet cotton. 138 yards, 4 oz.

Next: Velouria. This has some purples, wine, honey, mahogany, and peach plied with steel grey thread. Mixed wools, merino and tencel. 2.8 oz, 107 yards.

The third yarn I spun while watching the Tour de France wind it's way to Montpellier, so that is it's name. Bold, bouncy colors plied with steel grey thread. Mixed wool, merino/tencel. 2.9 oz, 116 yards.

The next yarn is called Sea Change. It's a 2-ply wool progressing from blue to green to yellow. 3.5 oz, 99 yards.

The last yarn on the block is Red Buttons. Of course. This yarn is hot! All shades of red, orange and yellows, plied with black thread strung with buttons. 3.2 oz, 142 yards.

I have more, but this is all that's fit to print today. Have a lovely Fiber Friday, world wide web! I'm going to an open house at the school/camp where I teach kids to spin and knit. They get to show off all their little projects to their parents tonight, and I'm excited for them.

Teaching kids to knit feels really important, though the people out there working to cure cancer may beg to differ. In any case, Friday is Friday. Let's enjoy it together. Everyone welcome.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour de Fleece - Challenge Day

I can briefly re-cap the challenge day with a picture representing my personal Col l'Aubisque: feathers. Dyed feathers.

I first looked up some technique in the book: Spinning Designer Yarns by Diane Varney. (a must have for spinners - don't you think?) The book confirmed what I thought: 2-ply yarn, trapping the stem of each feather in a coil.

Plus it's a rainbow yarn, just for the wow factor. It's a fandango yarn for sure, but I'm nervous about setting the twist. I don't want to ruin the feathers by getting them wet. I'm hoping a little steaming will do the trick.

My unsolicited advice: way over-spin the single first, so you don't over-ply while doing your coils. That is if you desire spinning with feathers. Perhaps nobody else would. I accept that.

Now that we are just a couple of days away from the finale, I hope le Tour is going well out there... I believe it is! The Flickr pool is full and so is the Craftster board.

We have a flat stage on Friday, a decisive time trial on Saturday, and victory laps around the Champs-Élysées on Sunday. That is all for today.

Tomorrow: Fiber Friday

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tour de Fleece - Rest day #2

This is it people, today was the last rest day until the Tour finishes up in Paris. We are in the homestretch.

I didn't actually rest but I spun a simple single yarn (not pictured) to keep myself limber. This is so that I will not get stiff tomorrow. Why, you ask? We're still in the Pyrenees.

Warning: tomorrow is challenge day! Be sure you spin something that is a personal challenge to you... that is if you are spinning along in the Tour de Fleece.

I have a few ideas of what to spin tomorrow but I haven't settled on it. Possibly something with feathers. Yes.

I'm not even going to say anything about the big scandal in cycling that unfolded today. I am too heartbroken. But I will say that le Tour lives on, no matter what!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fiber Friday 7/20/07

Happy Fiber Friday! I've got a few yarns to show off that I spun up this week. The first one: Rosebleed.

This was spun from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks fiber I got from a friend - the label was lost and I don't know the content but it is incredibly soft. It's a 2-ply that came out a bit thicker than I hoped but it's still pretty, in a bruisy kind of way. 3.8 oz. 80 yards.

Next up: I see you.

This is a singles yarn spun from natural colored wool, hand-dyed purple and tan mill ends, and mohair. 3.6 oz. 121 yards.

The third yarn down is called Volcano.

This yarn is made from natural chocolate brown merino, hand dyed pale blue and orange mill ends, orange mohair and recycled sari silk, plied with cotton crochet thread strung with 75 glass amber beads. It reminds me of a volcano erupting on a clear day. 3.6 oz. 132 yards.

I spun a yarn last week called Canterbury. This week I've got Canterbury Junior.

This yarn was made in the same way and used the leftover roving... I still love these colors! 2.3 oz. 90 yards.

The last yarn here is called July in the Alps. That's where the Tour de France was when I spun it.

You may recognize the colors, as it is from the same roving as Canterbury.

Reminder: the roving I bought at Black Sheep Gathering from Ronnie's Homespun. This was dyed by her 9 year old grandson. It's a somewhat energized single. 3 oz. 122 yards.

That's this week in spinning. I hope this Friday is kind to everyone... keep on spinning in the free world!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tour de Fleece - Day 13

On this Fiber Friday eve I'd like to share a taste of things to come. It's been a great week for spinning, for the most part.

The keen observer will note there are eight skeins here which is my weekly goal... this also means I spun on the rest day. The truth is that the cyclists spin on the rest days too so they don't get too stiff. No rest for the weary I suppose.

I've got two woolly singles, one 2-ply, two plied with thread, (one with beads) and three pure silk.

Tomorrow I will have full pictures of these skeins as well as their stats or stories. Except the silk. I'm waiting until I have all the mini-skeins of silk before taking their picture. They're too tiny!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tour de Fleece - Day 11

Hi spinners and lovers of yarn! For those of you not following the other Tour, Le Tour de France, I'm happy to report that today was the last stage in the Alps. No more hard climbing...

...until the Pyrenees that is.

In these parts, the tour is going well. I played with silk on the rest day yesterday - great summertime fiber. The shine that was happening while I was spinning was hypnotic!

I've also plied the yarn you see on the bobbins there and am happy with the result, though it is bulkier than I would have liked. I think for my birthday this year I'm asking for a high-speed flyer. I love my vintage Louet but it's tough to spin thin on it. Anyway, I'm going to call it rosebleed since it's pretty but in a bruisy way. Just like the guys in the peloton.

Like le Tour cyclists, the Tour de Fleece spinners are a tough group. I imagine we are, anyhow. To give you an appreciation on their dedication, I'm telling you now that there are some riders who have serious injuries and they have not quit.

Andreas Kloden has a broken tailbone. And he is still riding. His bike. Think about it. Vinokourov crashed on an earlier stage and has stitches all over his body, including both knees which were done while his leg was bent so he can still ride. He can't, however, stand up straight. I won't even mention the metal plate Contador has in his head.

These tales are meant to inspire. I know there are other things to do besides spinning, but the Tour only happens once a year. It's time to dig deep and soldier on. We can do it!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fiber Friday 7/13/07

Fiber Friday (the 13th!)

I have a lot of yarn already this week since the launch of the Tour de Fleece on Saturday.

Let's get right to it!

Three of the four of these yarns were spun from the same hand-dyed roving I bought at the Black Sheep Gathering. The stuff dyed by Ronnie's handspun's nine year old grandson.

I decided to try spinning it in different ways as an experiment. A sport weight, a worsted to bulky, a boucle and a single.

You'll have to wait to see the single by the way. It's currently drying in my shower!

First one here is called "Canterbury" since that was the stage of the Tour de France I watching while spinning. It's that very roving, spun into a single a plied with steel colored thread.

I admit it makes me happy. I'm experiencing a love affair with these colors.

The second yarn here is the same roving spun into a 2-ply sport to dk weight yarn. 3.9 oz, 160 yards. It's called vegetable garden and it's currently on it's way to the LA County Fair for judging. (!)

Number three down is vegetable patch. Yes, the same roving spun into a 2-ply worsted to bulky weight yarn. I like how the colors didn't blend as much in this one compared to the one above. Would you believe it's all the same roving?

The last one here is called spring cleaning. It's a lemon-lime boucle style yarn with a great deal of bounce.

It's hand-dyed mill ends and mohair locks spun up and plied with wasabi crochet thread.

I'm so happy the Tour has forced me to spin every day. I'm hitting my goal of eight skeins a week! Well that's a skein a day plus a bonus one for enthusiasm... or challenge. Either way.

I'm happy to report that after one week, our Tour de Fleece spinners are rocking the wheels. In case you forgot, check out the Flickr pool, full of very lovely yarns.

Today is the last flat stage in le Tour for a while. The cyclists hit the mountains this weekend so in solidarity I better kick it up a bit. Of course, this is when it starts to get really interesting!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tour de Fleece - Day 6

A wild day in le Tour as well as in our own Tour de Fleece. I spent a fair amount of time teaching kids to spin this week, while the cyclists fought it out to win stages and avoid horrible crashes... Some of use fared better than others.

I spent a lot of time working down that pound of fiber I scored from Ronnie's Homespun at the Black Sheep Gathering. Here is the latest: Veggie duo, done two ways.

The first yarn is a worsted to bulky 2-ply and the second is a sport to dk-weight of the same fiber. Isn't it cool to see how different they look? Or perhaps I am the only fiber nerd here.

The big news of the day for me is that, unlike last year, I made the deadline to submit yarns to the 2007 LA County Fair for judging. Last year I entered 3 yarns (late) and won 3 ribbons! Here's the scoop, in case you missed it.

I have more yarn to show, but will wait for tomorrow, Fiber Friday. Despite a bad toe that has nothing to do with anything, I will keep on spinning! How is the rest of the peloton?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tour de Fleece - Day 3

I managed to get a picture of what's on the bobbins... though by now these two have been plied together and sit tightly around the niddy noddy as one sweet sport weight yarn.

And they said it couldn't be done on a bulky flyer!

Seriously though, I am in love with these colors. I decided to split the one-pound braid of pretty roving into four yarns. (you know, the one dyed by the nine year old boy I keep raving about)

I've got a worsted to bulky 2-ply, a sport weight 2-ply, a bouncy number plied with thread and the next one will be a single. Why? Just as an experiment and to challenge myself, as I promised to do during the Tour de Fleece.

I hope all the Tour spinners are challenging themselves too! Warning, I know where you blog!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tour de Fleece Opening Day!

I don't know about you, but I spun away today while watching the opening day time trial in London. I thought about all of us spinners, working along together with our collective pounds of different colors of fibers and blends.

We are spinning everything from lace to bulky. We are spinning various fibers too. Today, I spun 4 oz. of merino-targhee-rambouillet blend from Ronnie's Homespun, dyed by her nine year old grandson. I also spun some mill ends and mohair into a second skein when I wanted to spin more.

My neck hurts, my back hurts, I have a headache. I spun way too much and I am rusty. But it felt great! Today's lesson: I am reminded to have better posture at the wheel.

No pics here yet as I am still on the bobbin... but check out the awesome Craftsters who have already something to show. Also, in the Flickr pool we already have lots of inspiring action. I'm really proud of everyone showing up on the first day! Tomorrow: The road to Canterbury!

How about the rest of you? What are you spinning?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fiber Friday 7/6/07

Another Friday, another Fiber Friday.

This week I have a self-striping worsted 2-ply with white mill ends, hand-dyed red stripes, natural grey wool, and black alpaca. There are bits of pink mohair for the surprise.

I'm trying to shake the image in my mind that this yarn suggests a road accident.

You know what's great about today's installment of Fiber Friday? The Tour de Fleece starts tomorrow! And for the few cycling geeks out there like myself, the Tour de France starts tomorrow as well. Frankly, I may not sleep tonight.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Black Sheep Gathering part 2

Welcome to the second part of a multi-part series concerning my recent odyssey through the great NW. Today's chapter: The Fiber Purchases.

I want to say immediately that I consider this fiber haul to be extremely minimal when you imagine skipping sock spinning kits, rug hooking kits, and say, a 10 pound fleece... Which I passed on because I was being "good."

Okay, The one pound white ball on the right is from Ronnie's Homespun, a blend of merino, targhee and rambouillet. It's soft and spongy. In a good way. I used to buy this exact blend from her on ebay before she stopped selling it there. I'm thrilled to have gotten my hands on another pound!

While I was there, she was telling us how her 9 year old grandson helped her dye wool, so I had to go ahead and buy the big braid you see at the bottom of the picture. That pound was dyed by him personally!

Moving on, the chianti colored roving in the middle is from the Bellweather and I'll be darned if I could remember what it is. Besides fluffy and pretty that is.

The white, shiny stuff on the left is soysilk. I plan to dye it but that's as far as my plans go. Color and purpose TBD. I haven't yet spun this fiber so I made sure to pick some up.

That brings us to the top row. The braid on the right is a blend of merino and tencel from Carolina Homespun. I've bought this from them before and it's nice when you want something shiny but not crunchy like silk.

And then I bought some yarn in Portland at Dublin Bay. The store was lovely and I fell for a big 250 gram hank of Hand Maiden "Ottawa." And then when it was wound into a ball it turned out to be comprised of 3 hanks tied together, only 2 of which match. You can tell in the top picture what is going on there.

It reminds me as a spinner and seller of homespun, hand-dyed yarn, to never tie on yarns in a hank like that. It's a let-down. I will do the every other row trick when I get around to knitting it but that could be a while. I've started on another pair of socks for the time being and I'm feeling monogamous to them.

Before you feel too sorry for me, I must admit I have a huge stash of fiber ready to go for the Tour de Fleece. Not counting the 3 pounds or so I scored at the Black Sheep Gathering. So, yeah, I'll be fine!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Black Sheep Gathering

I have a lot to say about the Black Sheep Gathering but for right this moment, let the pictures tell a story. I present now a series of very fortunate events, starring my pal Brooke.